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Friday, September 24, 2021

Football

Herman regroups players after second loss


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Head coach Tom Herman says that the blame for the team’s loss to SMU falls solely on himself. | Reagan Earnst/The Cougar

The season that started with so much promise has quickly evaporated as the Cougars dropped yet another game, this time to the Southern Methodist University Mustangs, Saturday night.

A 38-16 rout of the Cougars has fans scratching their heads as to what could have possibly gone wrong in just the span of a few weeks.

“We got our butts kicked by a good team that’s playing hard and playing fast,” said head coach Tom Herman. “Momentum is an unbelievable thing in this game, and we’ve got to do a much better job of teaching our players when momentum is on the other sideline how to get it back.”

Finding the problem

Momentum is certainly something the Cougars never possessed Saturday.

Two early turnovers from wide receivers Chance Allen and Linell Bonner coupled with lackadaisical defensive effort propelled the Mustangs to an early 21-0 lead. SMU accumulated 406 yards of total offense over a Cougar defense that was stout until the recent skid.

Despite an uncharacteristic performance, Herman said that he was still impressed by his team’s effort.

“I was asked after the game if the loss was embarrassing; not at all,” Herman said. “I would be embarrassed if our team didn’t play hard, but our team played really, really hard. They didn’t play well.”

Herman said that the Cougars are just one of 19 teams who have not yet had a bye week and the only team to have a stretch of four games in 19 days. While schedule-making is a largely fair process,  the Cougars have clearly drawn the short straw.

Due to the workload — and other factors — injuries have hurt the Cougars over the course of the season. The second-year head coach said that the grueling character of the fall camp in the offseason may have finally caught up to the players.

“Us having or not having a bye week doesn’t matter,” Herman said. “The win-and-loss column doesn’t care. It is our job to persevere through any adversity. It is my job as the leader of this organization to make sure that we can do that. If that means some minor adjustments during preseason camp or early in the season knowing what’s ahead — that is something I will look at.”

‘Back to being 1-0’

Herman said that the coaching staff, after the Cougars’ loss to Navy, may have motivated their players in the wrong way.

With a locker room full of heartbroken players, Herman said that he wanted to give his team hope. He also went over various scenarios of what could happen if Navy did not win out, which strayed from the team’s philosophy of “going 1-0 every day” in everything they do.

Herman said that the players must have felt overwhelming pressure because he showed them the big picture to make sure they take care of business.

“Had I had to do that over again, I would have never talked about the big picture,” Herman said. “If you win football games, the big picture takes care of itself. I’m looking forward to us getting back to our roots, so to speak, and getting back to being 1-0.”

The team must now regroup and prepare for the University of Central Florida, who will take on the Cougars at 11 a.m. Saturday.

With their goal of a second consecutive conference championship likely out of reach already, the Cougars will have to dig deep to find another source of motivation.

Herman, not worrying about the big picture, signed off with a simple goal for his team.

“Don’t worry about anything other than our one-game season against University of Central Florida,” Herman said.

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